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Myers, D.
Phepha International (formerly Principal Police Adviser to the Project)
The results achieved by Victoria’s approach to road safety over the last ten years have been
recognised and applauded locally, nationally and internationally. The integration of high levels of
enforcement combined with high levels of public awareness via mass media campaigns has seen
significant changes in road user behaviour.
Supporting the enforcement and public awareness campaigns with targeted education and road
safety engineering combined with effective and transparent evaluation of all aspects of the strategy
made up Victoria’s road safety program – Safety First. But how relevant is the Safety First model in
third world and developing nations?
Since 1998, Victoria has been involved in introducing the principals of Safety First into the
Province of KwaZulu-Natal in the Republic of South Africa. ASIPHEPHE (Zulu for “Let us be
Safe”) is the KwaZulu-Natal Road Safety Project that is based on Safety First.
During the same time frame, the National Department of Transport was introducing the National
road safety program – Arrive Alive. Whilst Asiphephe was limited to KwaZulu-Natal, the
interaction with Arrive Alive was dynamic and often tense.
This paper examines the results of the introduction of Safety First, in the context of Arrive Alive,
into a foreign environment with particular reference to the sustainability of the program in that
This evaluation has shown limited success in the transfer of skills, knowledge and understanding of
the theory and practice of the Victorian Road Safety Strategy leading to the conclusion that the
Victoria Solution, as such, cannot be transposed onto foreign environments without significant
review and adaptation based on local expectations and conditions.
Victoria is recognised as a world leader in road safety. Its road fatality rates are the lowest of any
state in Australia and amongst the lowest for any developed country of the world. Fatality and
accident numbers in Victoria have fallen dramatically since 1970. This fall is due in part to
innovative traffic law enforcement practices.
It is due also to hard-hitting public awareness campaigns introduced in recent years which have
supported enforcement initiatives and highlighted the need for greater care on the roads.
In order to ensure that Victoria maintains its benchmark position in reducing road trauma and its
savings to the community, a strategic road safety plan developed in 1989 is under constant review.
Proceedings of the 22nd Southern African Transport Conference (SATC2003)
ISBN Number: 0-958-46096-5
Proceedings produced by: Document Transformation Technologies
14 – 16th July 2003
Pretoria, South Africa
Conference Organised by: Conference Planners
The aim of Safety First - Victoria’s Road Safety Strategy 1995 - 2000 was to further reduce the
incidence, severity and cost to the community of road crashes. This strategy is currently under
The key components of the Strategy were:
! Enforcement
! Engineering
! Education
! Evaluation
! Public Awareness Campaigns
Improved research and education, continued media campaigns focusing on attitudes and behaviours,
attention to the design and safety features of roads and vehicles and the stringent enforcement of
road laws are the means by which the stated aim was to be achieved.
The Province of KwaZulu-Natal approached the State of Victoria for advice and assistance
following a presentation by Victoria Police at the 6th World Road Safety Congress in Cape Town in
October 1994.
In April 1995 with financial assistance from the Australian Aid Agency, AusAID, a KwaZulu-Natal
delegation, led by the Minister of Transport, Mr Subisiso Ndebele visited Melbourne and were
briefed on the Victorian road safety program by the key role players. Upon return to KwaZuluNatal, Minister Ndebele formed a senior committee to implement a road safety program in line with
the Victorian model.
In mid 1996, a multi disciplinary road safety assessment team, drawn from Victorian organisations
involved in road safety management and implementation, travelled to KwaZulu-Natal. In
conjunction with a locally appointed counter part team, an extensive comparative assessment study
of the road safety situation in the Province was undertaken. The resulting Assessment Study Report
contained some one hundred recommendations aimed at reducing the high level of road trauma in
Subsequent to the acceptance of this report, Project Victoria was instigated in KwaZulu-Natal. The
aims of this project were to implement the recommendations of the Assessment Study Report in line
with the role and structure of the Victorian Model.
The Government of KwaZulu-Natal, through the Department of Transport, requested a proposal for
the management and progression of the project. The Overseas Projects Corporation of Victoria and
the Victoria Police jointly bid for the project and it was subsequently awarded to them.
A multi disciplinary project team was formed and on the 10th of January 1998, the first contingent
arrived on site in KwaZulu-Natal. As the project progressed and developed, the Minister of
Transport determined that it needed a locally determined and culturally acceptable title. It was
subsequently renamed “ASIPHEPHE”, which is Zulu for “Let us be safe”.
During the same time frame, the National Department of Transport was introducing the National
road safety program – Arrive Alive. Whilst Asiphephe was limited to KwaZulu-Natal, the
interaction with Arrive Alive was dynamic and often tense.
This tension was partly due to existing National versus Provincial tensions but also due to the desire
to be innovators and leaders in road safety.
Prior to 1995 road safety throughout South Africa was a social conscience responsibility that reared
its head from time to time. Politicians would react with a need to be seen to “do something” and a
board or commission would be established. Invariably the intervention would be random, underresourced and poorly strategised. Public attention would waiver and very little would be achieved.
The Government, which took office in 1994, had a different approach to the value of life and well
being of the citizens of South Africa. It was generally recognized that the death toll on South
African roads was unacceptable. At that point the annual total for the country was in excess of 10
000, despite poor reporting systems and the exclusion of “homeland” information.
While acknowledging the problem, the only experience available in South Africa was poor at best
and few solutions presented themselves. Years of isolation had left South Africa in a technological
and operational vacuum with outdated practices and equipment.
Exposure to the Victorian experience was opportune and seemed to provide the solution which
KwaZulu-Natal was looking for. A tried and tested philosophy for the continuous reduction of road
carnage, which could be adapted to meet the South African environment. Again, however, this view
was not shared by the Arrive Alive managers who were attempting to introduce a National and
coordinated road safety strategy based on local geographical, demographical, cultural and socioeconomic influences.
Initially, success was achieved in KwaZulu-Natal with a measurable reduction in levels of road
trauma across the board. Similar outcomes, not as dramatic in KwaZulu-Natal (reported) however,
were achieved by Arrive Alive.
However, five years on, these results have not been sustained and there has been significant change
to the original format of the Safety First Program as introduced into KwaZulu-Natal in 1998.
This paper examines the current situation in KwaZulu-Natal relative to the road safety program and
the results and findings are based on the perceptions and evaluation of the personnel involved on
The methodology for the preparation of this paper is based on the views and perceptions of the
personnel involved within the Road Safety Project. It is supported by a limited review of project
literature and reports.
Statistics and measures of road trauma, trends in road trauma and road safety outcomes are limited
and often difficult to obtain. However, data from the National Department of Transport, KwaZuluNatal Department of Transport and CSIR have been used to support the findings of this paper.
3.1 Overview
The Road Safety Project has been examined from the identified key components that made up the
basis of the Safety First Strategy.
3.2 Management and Coordination
A permanent Road Safety Directorate (RSD) has been established within the Provincial Department
of Transport. This new Directorate has priorities that are more community based, through
Community Road Safety Councils.
Although the new Directorate has been in place for some time, over two and a half years, the Road
Safety Board of Management has not reconvened in that time. As such, the Directorate lacks
strategic direction. Without this strategic direction, it is very difficult to include all stakeholders in
planning or implementation.
The RSD is headed by the Chief Director: Communications and Public Safety whose role is
somewhat unclear as his function is not solely managing road safety, but more in the line of a public
communications role commenting on a number of various issues and incidences within the
Further, there appears to be no ongoing dialogue between the Provincial Department of Transport
and those responsible for road safety within Durban. Anecdotal evidence indicates that
communication with local road safety authorities within the Province (as apart from Community
Road Safety Councils) is also very limited. This has resulted in a lack of coordinated activity in all
aspects of the program.
The original recommendations contained in the Assessment Study recommended the establishment
of coordinating committees for enforcement, engineering and education and these have, not to date,
been established. In fact, the Asiphephe project in reality, is education and public awareness
focussed with little relevance to enforcement, engineering or evaluation (KZN DoT Annual Report
2002 – Section 8).
3.3 Enforcement
A dedicated Traffic Camera Office (TCO) for processing speed camera fines has been established.
This facility has the capability for processing over one million fines annually. Responsibility for the
TCO has been moved to the Motor Licensing Bureau with no reference to the Road Safety
Directorate for deployment or usage policies.
Enforcement efforts throughout the local, metropolitan and provincial authorities are currently
managed by the Enforcement Coordinator who previously was positioned functionally within the
Road Safety Directorate. Whilst the actual physical office is within the RSD, the coordinator reports
to the Provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate and the National Road Safety Program – Arrive Alive.
Although one of the key components of the Road Safety Enforcement sub program was the use of
booze buses and extensive random breath test to reduce the incidence of drink driving, the buses
have become little more than show pieces for displays and occasionally utilised as command
vehicles for field operations.
The slogan for the Asiphephe project is “Zero Tolerance KZN”. “Zero Tolerance” can be generally
defined as a policy where the statutes are applied all circumstances in a concentrated and strategic
deployment of all available resources without exception or discretion. Without effective
management, relevant crash and offence data and the use of accepted strategic deployment
methodology, the use of “Zero Tolerance” terminology is far from fact.
3.4 Media Awareness
The responsibility for the media awareness campaigns now rests with an appointed advertising
consultancy firm.
This firm initially made it clear that:
! They did not believe in shocking people or having an emotional component to the advertising
They did not believe in scientifically based, data driven strategies but will rely on “gut feel” for
the production of advertisements
They would not commit to ensuring that advertising should support enforcement activities or to
have any connection with this component of the program.
Further, all public communications are now controlled by the Communications Directorate of the
Department of Transport. This removes communications from the Road Safety Directorate and will
attempt to influence the community through public relations activities away from direct control by
the RSD.
3.5 Engineering
On examination, it is apparent that the engineering function does not fall within the RSD sphere of
control and the Chief Engineer manages his Directorate in an autonomous and independent manner.
However, a number of identified high risk areas have been treated with engineering solutions. The
road safety outcomes of many of these is yet to be scientifically quantified.
3.6 Evaluation
The University of Natal Interdisciplinary Accident Research Centre was established in 1999 and a
priority list of projects has been developed. A number of these projects are currently underway.
An external evaluation of the project was undertaken in 1999 by a multidisciplinary team that
included two representatives of Victoria.
Concern expressed is that this evaluation did not address key shortcomings in the critical areas of
the new road Safety Directorate and on going quality assurance of the original project.
Two evaluations were produced. One a draft that identified a number of failings in the project, its
management, or lack of management, and implementation. The second was a sanitised version
without serious reference to the problems being experienced. The latter became the accepted
document for public and political consumption.
3.7 Road Trauma Levels
Whilst the limitations of available statistics has been acknowledged, preliminary figures for the year
2000 indicate a rise in fatalities in KwaZulu-Natal of over 10% on 1999. It has been indicated that
this is only a preliminary figure and the final count is complete.
In 2003, the RSD produced a booklet on its role and achievements. In this document it states that by
1998 fatalities in the Province had been reduced to approximately 1400. However, in a presentation
to a recent road safety symposium held by UNIARC, figures provided from the National Fatal
Accident Information Centre (NFAIC) that stated that in 2002 the number of fatal collisions (not
fatalities) was 1950 (Heavy Vehicle Symposium, UNIARC, 2003). If both figures are relied upon,
the road trauma in KZN has escalated significantly since 1998.
In response to the disastrous 2002 – 2003 Christmas road toll in KZN, Mr Logan Maistry – Acting
Director: Communications, KZN Department of Transport asserted in a letter published in a number
of National and Local newspapers that “..we have reduced road fatalities by more than 30% per
annum since 1996”. In 1996 the road fatality rate in KZN was approximately 2000 with an
estimated 20% under reporting of these statistics. An annual reduction of 30% would make the
death toll in 2002 approximately 235. Is this fact? Certainly not. Even the use of the flawed data and
process to support the rolling 30% annual reduction that is often used to support the success of the
program is not plausible.
Further, in Section 8 of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport Annual Report 2002, the
section dealing with road safety states that the level of fatalities in the Province in the year 2000
was 1770 and in 2001 1450.
Data obtained from NFAIC clearly disputes the figures detailed above and indicate that KZN is in a
state of a road trauma emergency that requires drastic action.
Whilst the actual level of road trauma in KZN cannot be accurately quantified, the following tables
and graphs relative to the levels of road trauma in KwaZulu-Natal provided by NFAIC indicate a
substantially different situation than as depicted by KZN DoT..
Table 1. KwaZulu-Natal : Number of Fatal Accidents, Fatalities and Rates from 1998 to 2002.
No of Fatal
% Change
No of
2562 est
2497 est
No of
Rate per
10 000
876 064
882 667
889 987
Table 2. Number of Fatal Accidents per Province: 1998 and 2002.
Western Cape
Eastern Cape
Free State
North West
Northern Cape
Total RSA
% of Total
% of Total
% Change
Road safety has become one of the key deliverables for a Democratic South Africa. It is
inconceivable that the advances in operational techniques, marketing strategies and technology are
not harnessed to curb the unacceptable situation on the roads. The Traffic fraternity has a
responsibility to change the culture of South African road users, both drivers and pedestrians, to
create an environment that respects life and the law. Selfish, lawless behaviour must be eliminated.
The achievements of first three years were apparently dramatic, however this level of success has
not been sustained. There is still a long way to go. If the NFAIC data is relied upon, the death toll
on KwaZulu-Natal’s roads has increased over the last four years that has it exceeding its 1996
levels. The cost of road trauma is unacceptable balanced against the critical need for basic
community justice and welfare services.
The Victorian Safety First Model had laid the foundations for a new era in road safety in KwaZuluNatal and South Africa. There is no doubt that the new institutional arrangement of the proposed
Road Traffic Management Corporation will address many of the institutional, resource and capacity
problems facing the country. The lessons of KwaZulu-Natal and Victoria will undoubtedly help to
shape the strategy that this new body should follow.
However, what has become apparent is the limited success in the transfer of skills, knowledge and
understanding of the theory and practice of the Victorian Road Safety Strategy. The Victoria
Solution, as such, cannot be transposed onto foreign environments without significant review and
adaptation based on local expectations and conditions.
The fact that the project has not achieved its objectives must be accepted and addressed as a matter
of urgency.
In order to address the situation as depicted, all Provincial road safety programs should be
undertaken in the context of the National Program – Arrive Alive. This is the only way forward if
true consistency of effort and application is to be realised.
To commence the process of attaining any level of success in road safety outcomes, the following
key activities are recommended:
! Independent and external evaluation of National and Provincial Road Safety Programs now and
on an ongoing basis with individual program and project evaluations on a cyclical basis;
! A complete and comprehensive analysis of all available data to determine public and
community sectors and groups for tailor made road safety programs;
! All road safety activities must be coordinated especially in the disciplines of enforcement and
public awareness;
! Cross border enforcement plans and campaigns must be established and strategically deployed
(particularly applies to Gautang and KwaZulu-Natal in holiday periods);
! Strategic deployment of all on road resources (both personnel and technological) involving a
mixture of specific and general deterrence activities via high profile and visible operations;
! Detailed and agreed accountabilities for outputs and road safety outcomes at all responsible
levels in all key managerial areas;
! Development of a detailed technological support plan for operational enforcement including
cyclical equipment replacement and the participation in Public Private Partnerships with
technology providers;
! A National Traffic Intelligence Unit be established with web access to relevant data and
information relevant to local, regional, Provincial and National road safety practitioners from all
disciplines; and
! A bank of appropriately skilled consultants (preferably a mix of national and international with
current and relevant skills and knowledge) be developed for access by all Provinces but
managed at National level
Substantial community consultation must be undertaken to ensure that any future deployment of
Victoria’s, or any other Country or State’s, road safety strategy in South Africa is customised and
adapted to meet the prevailing social, economic, political and geographic conditions of the target
Without this substantial review and consultation process, any future projects of this nature are
exposed to significant risk of achieving only limited success or ultimately, failure.
Myers, D.
Phepha International (formerly Principal Police Adviser to the Project)
Des Myers
Grad. Dip. Public Admin (Policing), Dip. In Business, Grad. Cert. Applied Management
Des Myers was a member of the Victoria Police and has over twenty six years of operational and
specialist policing experience resigning at the rank of Chief Inspector. Over the last ten years of his
career he occupied key positions in a number of major organisational change and technology based
From 1998 to October 1999, he was the Principal Police Adviser to the KwaZulu-Natal (South
Africa) Road Safety Project. He is currently an International Public Safety Management Consultant
specialising in the areas of road safety and ethics and counter corruption planning.
He has provided consultancy services in Australia, USA, Canada, Republic of South Africa,
Botswana and the Middle East where is currently undertaking Road Safety Assessments and
program implementation.
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